I've got 6 of these living round my kitchen window and one in my living room window. They're usually hidden in the frame until evening, so I'm guessing they're nocturnal? This is the smallest of the brood, but the only one prepared to pose for a picture! I live in South Devon and wonder if it's a type of false widow? orb weaver?
Hope the picture isn't too grainy. Thank you.
These are examples of the Missing Sector Orb Web spider, Zygiella x-notata. This is a very common and widespread species and loves to make its web over windows and uses the corners if the frame and the sill for its refuge. I doubt there is a home in the land that does not have this species in residence.
It is also the species most commonly mistaken for the Noble False Widow, Steatoda nobilis.
Zygiella spp. are completely harmless and through the year they will catch a good deal of insects and other invertebrates that are considered pests. They are also one of the few species that happily feed through the winter given available winter insects.
For less shocking and hopefully reassuring information on False Window spiders please see the following link:
Thank you kindly for the reply. After a bit of googling, I thought it might be the sector spider and you can see how the noble false widow and this may be confused.
Can I also ask though, the spider I photographed is much smaller than the other two I can see, but they are snug in the window frame and I can only see part of the abdomen and a few legs. There is one that has a much bigger abdomen, darker (and shorter) legs but similar markings (I think). Would this also be part of the sector family? I only ask because I have a 10 month old and want to be sure it's nothing sinister. I'm unable to photograph the other ones very clearly, but the larger one does drop down in the web at night. Thank you.
It may help clear up some of your uncertainty by looking at the webs that they use. A false widow's web is generally a 3D lattice mess rather than a simple round orb type in one plane. So if they're all sitting in webs of the latter type when they emerge they're unlikely to be false widows.
Hope that helps.
Thanks for that info, that's really useful. In certain light, I can see the web seems to spread in long thin strands across much of the window. In the top of the frame there are what look like web 'pods' (only way I can describe). Like cocoons? Does that mean anything to you? Sorry to be so vague
I just had a look at our assemblage of Zygiella and Steatoda just outside the back door. Couldn't really make out any cocoons at present though I've read that Zygiella x-notata does produce them in autumn and winter.
Does the false widow also lay eggs this late in the year or at some other time? Are they in an obvious place or in the retreat tunnel?
One more thing I've wondered about - does the "x" in the binomial name in this case imply some kind of hybrid status?
It sounds to me like buttonmoon is describing the tube-like silken retreats of Zygiella, but the 'puffy' egg sacks are also likely to be present from late autumn and these are made outside of the retreat but in a similar position. Steatoda nobilis have similar silken retreats but these are usually hidden in crevasses and out of site, they also lay their egg sacks in these hidden positions where possible too. The peak egg hatch for nobilis appears to be late autumn but I have been sent mature males in almost all months of the year and it’s likely that females are produce eggs throughout the year.
x-notata simply means x marked, arguably this is the x mark:
Thank you so much. I'm pretty happy now.
Always good to know the little beasties :)
Message was edited by: Buttonmoon Ok, just to satisfy my own curiosity - I managed to photograph the bigger spider (not great quality, sorry). Is this also a missing sector?